All posts tagged History

Railroad History, Perhaps

This unusual bit of history* comes from Mel Lett. I have not thoroughly researched its authenticity, but it certainly fits my image of the way the world is.

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.

Why did the English build them like that?

Because the first rail

Read the rest...

Post no Hannibals

By Gary Hallock

It is often presumed that the Carthaginian military strategist, Hannibal invaded Italy by crossing the alps on pachyderms because he wished to have a tactical advantage over his enemy. The simple truth was that he had so much equipment and ammunition to haul there would be no other way for him to accomplish the journey. Hannibal knew that in order to be certain of a victory, it was important that he maintain the elephant of supplies.… Read the rest...

The Southern Reconstruction

By Alan B. Combs

During the years immediately following the U.S. Civil War, the plight of Southerners of all persuasions was not helped by the large influx of scalawags and other folks trying to make a fast buck off the locals’ troubles. One particularly troublesome group originated from the Midwestern city of Madison. This group, singing their theme song “On Wisconsin”, became known as the Carpetbadgers.… Read the rest...

Punoff 2001 Silver Medal — Jim Ertner

This routine placed 2nd in the 2001 Punoff and is by Jim Ertner in his first appearance at a Punoff.

This is horseracing time of the year, especially with the triple crown events — one of which is actually running today. (In fact, I put on this ponytail just to get in the spirit.) My mind wanders much further back, though, to one of the world’s most famous horse riders, namely, Lady Godiva.

In her most celebrated ride, Lady Godiva … Read the rest...

Elvis, Take One

This was posted on the groaners listserv. The author is not known.

It is always interesting to look back on the careers of the greats of the entertainment world and see their first, stumbling efforts on the path the greatness. This is the case with Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley was a young lad fresh from the farm when he first started trying to cut a record. He was, in those days, accompanied everywhere by his pet pig. Virtually all of … Read the rest...

Osama in Heaven

This tale has been making the internet rounds lately. I thank Bill Pardue for this version. We can only hope it’s true.

After his death, Osama bin Laden went to heaven…………………..

There he was greeted by George Washington who proceeded to slap him across the face and yell at him, “How dare you try to destroy the nation I helped conceive!”

Patrick Henry approached and punched Osama in the nose and shouted, “You wanted to end our liberties, but you … Read the rest...

Today’s History Lesson

This was sent to me by Tom Vickery. Deep in my heart, I have certain reservations about the authenticity of this tale.

Have you ever wondered where the phrase, “You gotta be shittin’ me!” came from?

Well, it just so happens to have originated through the Father of our Country. Way back when, George Washington was crossing the Delaware River with his troops. There were 33 [remember this number] in Washington’s boat. It was extremely dark and storming furiously and … Read the rest...

Dental Floss

The author of the first version of the tale is unknown.

On a distant planet, the dominant population was obsessed with dental hygiene due to the fact that they had three complete receding sets of mandibles. They were so concerned with maintaining their teeth, hat the custom was to floss several times a day.

To achieve this goal, they grew a floss plant from which the fibers were extracted to make the necessary product.

Being a scientifically advanced species especially … Read the rest...

The Hat

Another original groaner by rosecatt.

A little known fact is that a very famous Mexican dance was originally invented in Biblical times during the reigns of King David and King Solomon. A special hat with a wide brim was invented, and the dancers danced to the hymns written by the aforementioned kings.

I don’t know what they called the hat itself, but I have read that the whole idea was ridiculed by the population at the time.

Every week on … Read the rest...

Marching Along

By Alan B. Combs (you can tell when I wrote this).

The Roamin’ Senate spent a long time debating whether tax day, the day they all should beware, was to be on the fourteenth or the fifteenth of March. Finally, they took a vote, and the forgone conclusion was:

The Ides have it.… Read the rest...

The Gun Fighter

Mel Lett sent me this tale. It is currently making the rounds, but I think it is an ancient tale, nevertheless.

Marvin had always wanted to be a gunfighter. He grew up in the old West. As a child he read everything about gunfighters he could find. His hero was Billy the Kidd. He dreamed of being just like his hero.

One day he went to town and bought himself a black hat, some black clothes, a black horse and … Read the rest...

Atilla, The Pun

This was posted on the groaners listserv. The author is not known

Attila the Hun was riding across Eastern Europe pillaging, burning, and raping. As he came up to the next small village in his path, he brought his horde to a halt. There was a small, naked boy standing in the middle of the road. The little boy was eating M&Ms. This has nothing to do with the story, but adds a little human interest.

Well, Attila and the … Read the rest...

Destitute Kings

Bob Levi sent this to us with the comment it needs to be shared. Indeed.

King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Crosus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan.

Crosus said, “I’ll give you 100,000 dinars for it.”

“But I paid a million dinars for it,” the King … Read the rest...

The Renwick Flyers

This long, shaggy, and interesting variant on an old theme was posted to the groaners listserv. The author is not known.

A couple of nights ago, I actually took the time to watch some television. This is something I don’t do much of, and hence, I have absolutely no clue of what programs might be of interest, and when they might air. So, with my usual spate of luck, I picked the night when there was nothing of interest. Only … Read the rest...

The Old West

This was sent to me by Karen James and by Bev McGuire. It is making the rounds, so I will send it out quickly. The author is not known.

Historians of the Old West have recently discovered that Annie Oakley, famed sharp-shooter of the Old West, had a sister.

The sister, Carrie, gained some renown in her day as a singer in various saloons throughout the West, but it was not until after her death that she became more widely … Read the rest...

Spider Hole

This limerick, written on the day Saddam’s capture was announced, is by master Punster Gary Hallock.

A tip from an Iraqi fighter
Most likely a Baathist insider
Led troops when they searched
To Saddam, who perched
Right there in the lair of a spider

Arachnid’s a good thing for all
That into a hole he would fall
“The mis-leader, Saddam”
Say gen’ral, “We got’im”
From under Iraq he did crawl

These war games have taken a toll
So this news … Read the rest...

A War Story, or How to Go to the Brig in One Easy Lesson

From LAUGHaDAY , the author is not known. I would wager the tale is older than I am, however.

A couple of marines were serving in Italy during the Second World War, when they came across a dead donkey. As it was starting to smell pretty bad they started digging a hole in which to bury it. But they soon got into an argument over what it was called.

The first marine said, “It’s a donkey.”

The second marine said, … Read the rest...


This is an original style shaggy dog with highly educational aspects of physics and history. You have been warned. The author is not known. It was posted by Stan Kegel on the groaners listserv.

As a child I came to America with my family in the darkest days of the Great Depression. It was only through the hard struggles of my dear mother and father that I was able to receive a fine education in American schools. I was awarded … Read the rest...

Ivan Ivanovich

This is by “Paul Otto” who says, “My Dad’s been telling me shaggy dog stories for years and just told me about your site. I haven’t looked through it all, but a brief search did not turn up one in the way I heard it (from someone other than my Dad), and I thought I’d share it with you.”

This is the story of Ivan Ivanovich who lived in Russia before the Communist Revolution.

Ivan and his wife of many … Read the rest...

Captain Cook

This tale is from the groaners listserv. The author is not known.

While Captain Cook was sailing the South Pacific, he discovered an island that had a fabulous house of ill repute. The women were out of this world, the hospitality incredible, and the prices amazingly cheap.

After many enjoyable visits, he told all his brothers and cousins about the place, and they went there by the boatloads. Soon they had trashed the place with their drunken brawls, terrorized the … Read the rest...

A Babylonian General

The author of this tale is unknown. It was published, among other places, on the groaners listserv.

A Babylonian general was declared a traitor for leading a revolt. He escaped the night before he was to be executed and hid in an old Babylonian ziggurat, or temple, where he expected to find some of his associates. Not finding them, he began to burn the papers they had left and was immediately recaptured.

Moral of the story: The searchin’ general has … Read the rest...


This was posted on the groaners listserv. It is by Himie Koshevoy.

To celebrate Canada’s Centennial year of 1967, Vancouver, British Columbia, built a magnificent planetarium that has played to standing room audiences since it opened. Many of its visitors are students of secondary schools, and one school decided to produce a play wherein the student players would enact the roles of heavenly bodies. The teacher who had written the play, chose her cast and awarded the roles to those … Read the rest...

George Washington

This is from “tolandpublications”, and it was published on the groaners listserv.

Many historians are unaware of a little-known aspect of American history involving George Washington. The Father of our Country became an almost apocryphal figure, and people know a lot of the stories and myths surrounding George Washington. We remember the story of his supposedly throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac River. (Of course, money went a lot farther in those days.) We remember other stories about … Read the rest...

Marx in France

This was posted on alt.humor.puns by Perfect Tommy. The author is unknown.

Karl Marx was in Montmartre visiting Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. They were out riding in a carriage, and Lautrec saw some peasants working in a field and wanted to paint them. However, they were wearing dirty old dungarees, and he wanted to know if they had something more colorful to wear. Lautrec had difficulty walking because of childhood injuries, so Marx volunteered to go out to the field … Read the rest...

Law in China

This is from duh me on alt.humor.puns. The author is unknown.

Back in one of the old Chinese dynasties the towns had gongs that would be rung every two hours: At 8am once, 10am twice, noon thrice, 2pm four times, etc.

The lawyers of the day would stretch out the trials as much they could to make more money.

The judges became extremely bored with the status quo and went to the emperor, getting a proclamation that all trials would … Read the rest...